BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The main prognostic factors in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are chromosomal abnormalities, the proportion of blasts in bone marrow and number and degree of cytopenias. A consensus-defined International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) for predicting outcome and planning therapy in MDS has been developed, but its prognostic value in a large and independent series remains unproven. Furthermore, the intermediate-risk cytogenetic subgroup defined by the IPSS includes a miscellaneous number of different single abnormalities of uncertain prognostic significance at present. The main aim of the present study was to identify chromosomal abnormalities with a previously unrecognized good or poor prognosis in order to find new cytogenetic markers with predictive value. DESIGN AND METHODS: We report the cytogenetic findings in a series of 968 patients with primary MDS from the Spanish Cytogenetics Working Group, Grupo Cooperativo Espanol de Citogenetica Hematologica (GCECGH). RESULTS: In this series of 968 MDS patients, we found various cytogenetic aberrations with a new prognostic impact. Complex karyotype, -7/7q- and i(17q) had a poor prognosis; normal karyotype, loss of Y chromosome, deletion 11q, deletion 12p and deletion 20q as single alterations had a good prognosis. Intermediate prognosis aberrations were rearrangements of 3q21q26, trisomy 8, trisomy 9, translocations of 11q and del(17p). Finally, a new group of single or double cytogenetic abnormalities, most of which are considered rare cytogenetic events and are usually included in the intermediate category of the IPSS, showed a trend to poor prognosis. INTERPRETATION AND CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that some specific chromosomal abnormalities could be segregated from the IPSS intermediate-risk cytogenetic prognostic subgroup and included in the low risk or in the poor risk groups.